AHS Graduation 2019

Attleboro High School valedictorian Kathleen Kerrins addresses graduates and guests at last May's commencement.

ATTLEBORO — The high school is changing the way it calculates class rank and is doing away with the traditional way of selecting a valedictorian and salutatorian.

Traditionally, those positions of honor have been granted to the top two students in the graduating class.

Also, schools over the years have ranked students from first to last based on grade point average, with extra credit given for taking Advanced Placement and honors classes.

Starting this year, the students will be ranked in “deciles.” In other words, they will be grouped by the top 10 percent, second 10 percent, and so on.

But, there will be no No. 1 or No. 2 students.

Instead of rewarding the valedictorian and salutatorian addresses at graduation to the top two students, speakers will be selected from the top 10 percent and honors programs.

Asked about the changes Friday, Principal Bill Runey said the high school was changing with the times.

He said colleges used to rely on class rank for admission purposes, but now often do not accept a high school’s ranking system and instead have their own way of evaluating applicants.

“Class rank has become a bit dated as colleges depend less and less on this metric and more and more on their own measures,” Runey said.

He also said competition can be a good thing, but not when it pits one student against another. There is often a tiny difference in grade point average between students, Runey said.

“We also realized that ordering students in this way runs contrary to what we as a school and district value. One of our exit outcomes is collaboration and class rank indirectly runs contrary to that,” he said.

Jim Hand may be reached at 508-236-0399 or jhand@thesunchronicle.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @TSCpolitics.

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